Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review: "The Guineveres" by Sarah Domet

Four girls, all coincidentally named Guinevere, end up at a convent. They have each been left their by their parents for different reasons (which we find out later, which is good because I was going to be ANGRY if we did not get backstories). They all bond together immediately and spend their days talking about what their lives will be like once they are allowed to leave at 18 (or earlier, if any of their escape plans would go right.)

Their lives are pretty routine: class, mass, confession, some free time, chores, bad food, lights out. Then there are some new patients in the sick ward that changes the girls lives. This book gives you: teenage girl fights, big questions about love and God, the wonderfulness of great friendships, the general horror of being a teenager whose body is changing, and (IMHO) more than a few cases of undiagnosed mental illnesses.

Some reviewers criticize the girls for their "mindless drivel". I think that these girls who: have not much life experience (and what they have is not considered well balanced or "normal"), don't have any real safe relationships with adults where they can ask them personal questions, and have a lot of time to ruminate on things during hours of prayer and church services would talk pretty much exactly that way. Also, they are teenagers. Mostly they won't be discussing Shakespeare.

I thought this book was full of well fleshed out and realistic characters, believable scenarios, in an easy to follow narratives. I give this book a 3.5 stars out of 5. Tip of the hat to T from Traveling with T who a couple of months ago hosted a chat with the author and got this book on my radar.


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: "Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe" by Mike Massimino

I kind of igured that if you ended up as an astronaut that was something that you decided at the age of like, 6 and then spent your whole life dedicated to getting to that goal. I think some people that is absolutley the case. Mike Massimino - "Mass" - was less like that. He had a fascination with space but then as he grew older fell into different interests until it was ignited in him again during college. What he couldn't have known was that the path that he was on (studying engineering and how humans interact with machines) was actually just what he needed to catch the interest of NASA. Which is not to say things were easy.

He was in good shape, good mental health, fit well personality wise that they were looking for but....bad eyes. And it's not like he's a pilot. He's a payload specialist. So in the years before LASIK he worked with doctors to correct his eyes in nonsurgical ways. Through practice and training he corrected his eyesight enough to get in the range of what NASA would accept. High stress!

I think that Mass loved the science, and being in space but the feeling that I get from the book is that he loved the family aspect of NASA the most. The camraderie and the team mentanlity really appealed to him and he needed to lean on that a few times with bumps in his perosnal life.


Also, if you're a Big Bang Theory fan you may recognize Mass as the American astronaut that Howard goes to space with. He started as a science advisor for the show and then they're like...hey....so.....actor?







This was also a well timed read for me because I read it shortly after John Glenn's death and I needed a little space in my life.

A good, easy to read book that is less snark and more science than others that I have read by other astronauts. Though there is certainly room in my reading life for both types!




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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top Ten 2016 - A Review

A couple of people at work asked me if I had written a post on my top reads of 2016. And I said "uhhhhhhh....no but now that you say that I remember that I probably should!" (This has not been a super on top of it year for the blog, none of you need to be reminded of that).

So, here are my 10 favorite reads of 2016 in no particular order:

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Because sometimes "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" is a really fun place to be with a book.



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Finally got around to reading this with blogger friend Jamie for her Quarterly Classics Club. So good. Not a dry, crusty, old, theological trial like some people might think. Find a good translation and pick this up!

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Not just a pretty face. These classic fairy tales with a twist are perfect for new generations of (particularly female) readers. But that cover! Swoon!

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Oh Mary Roach how I love you. Pick this up and learn so so much. And then donate money to a reputable charity that helps this nation's veterans. (You also learn about penis transplants which was ffaaaaaaaascinating).

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Magical realism set in Krakow during WWII? Of course I loved this book. Scary and tense and funny and an inconclusive ending all makes this a compelling read.


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This book scared the life out of me. And then my mom read it and it scared the life out of her! But it wasn't just scary it was creative and imaginative and the details were so on point.

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I read this book after watching the author's TED talk. And after reading this book I put all of his other books on my TBR. Also a candidate for best cover of the year!


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You guys know nothing trips my trigger quite like a great historical graphic novel. And this was a great one. All the cloak and dagger madness of the Manhattan Project kept me flipping through these pages at the speed of a blooming mushroom cloud! (Slightly inappropriate, mea culpa)

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I honestly don't know how many other people would like this book as much as me but the seedy under belly of the dog breeding and showing world was a little gossipy and really informative, just how I like my nonfiction!

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We'll end on another dog book. The story of how incredibly brave humans and their dogs saved countless lives in Alaska during a diphtheria outbreak had me with a lump in my throat and fighting the urge to stand up and cheer all at once.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Book Review: "Brilliance" by Marcus Sakey

My coworker Megan and I often talk about books, and she was telling me about this series that she had gotten for a really good deal for her Kindle. The more she talked about it the more I'm like yeaaaah, that sounds like a book I need to read. And my TBR grew three books that day.

So in the world of this book there are a small minority of people who are born with special abilities. Some of them are kind of the savant variety (I'm going to name a place and you will automatically know the address because you memorized the phone book) and some are more intuitive. Our main character, Nick, is able to really read people's body language and anticipate what they are going to do. Helpful in a fight, which he gets into a lot. So, since the government is always scared of what's different, all of these people with abilities are closely monitored and if you are "tier one" (especially gifted, or in the perspective of the government really potentially dangerous) you are placed into "academys" where you are basically brainwashed and then the government uses your unique ability to work for them. Everyone take a moment here to be shocked that that's how the government would work. No one shocked? Yeah, me either.

So Nick is an interesting main character because he is one of the gifted ones AND he works for one of the government organizations. He hunts down dangerous people who are affiliated with radical organizations and neutralizes them.
As is so often the case, not everything is as it seems and Nick finds himself seeing things from a different perspective and it's all manhunts and gun fights and all of the other things that come with a great thriller.

Two things that caught my interest in this book:

-After reading so many more YA geared dystopia/sci fi stuff this one has a couple decidedly more R rated moments. Which is not to say that there's like, big graphic sex scenes but it's written for a little older crowd and it's kinda nice. Someone gets thrown from a car and it's kinda badass.

-I want a WHOLE other book about a character named Samantha who is really only in one short piece of the book but I'm like THIS CHICK. I WANT MORE ABOUT THIS CHICK. She sounds like an interesting, sad lady.

So, since it's a trilogy I will be heading to the library to find the next installment! I give it a 3.5 of of 5. Excited to see what comes next!

 

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Review: "The Age of Miracles" by Karen Thompson Walker

My library didn't have this categorized as a YA book, and it really should have been. Nothing against YA books, I know several adults read them and think they are great, but with a few exceptions they aren't something that I find myself reading regularly. The main character is a 12 year old and I couldn't help thinking that I would like this storyline better if the character was a little bit older. Anyway, probably not great book blogger form to start with a criticism so let's back it up and talk about the plot.

Something has happened (no one knows what exactly) and now the earth is spinning slower and it's having a lot of repercussions. Like time is added on in an inconsistent way so there's sometimes where the sun doesn't go down for 36 hours or longer. There's weird magnetic field stuff. Gravity is effected, like birds can barely fly; everything becomes heavier (if that makes sense). In the middle of all of the end of the world feeling type of stuff Julia is a 12 year old only child with parents who have a strained marriage and is going through all of that awful stuff that 12 year olds go through.

I would have like this book more if it did a little more world building. I know that Julia is the main character and we're supposed to be the most interested in her; but I would have been more interested in hearing what was happening around the world and how people were dealing with the changes as opposed to her interactions at the bus stop with her crush.I wanted a wider lens.

If you have a yound reader in your life who might have an interest in a book that's a little more dystopian but not as dark as an Divergent or Hunger Games this might be a good place to start. There's not much violence, no sex, (I think) no swearing. So all in all, not a book for me, but not a bad book per se. 

2.8 stars out of 5!



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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book review: "Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People" by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Before we start, this author had a previous book named "Pastrix" which probably would have been a little helpful to have read before this book but is by no means a prerequisite. She kind of recounts enough that you get the idea that she had a really conservative upbringing, took a hard hard hard turn into drugs and alcohol and then found her way out and into the ministry. So she pastors a church in Denver full of "accidental saints". People who society would kind of shun or think are weird or look down on or exclude or who have had a lot of issues with organized religion in the past and are just looking to have a toe dipping in kind of experience to see if there's room for them.

I selected this book from Blogging for Books because I had heard vaguely about it and the selection from which to pick from for Blogging for Books is getting a little bit stale. I was a little weary going into it because being a religious person I'm always side eyeing a lot of the hot, trendy religious books for several reasons but in the spirit of being less of a snob and being open to new things I found myself with this book. While I don't agree with all of her views I really appreciate her dedication to her people and prayer and being a good pastor for her flock.

Ready for some out of context quotes? Becuase that's a-comin your way:

She has a parishoner who says she's having a crisis of faith. She goes and talks to her and help her out. Turns out the parishoner is in a crisis because "she thinks she believes in Jesus". Nadia laughs and says "So sorry, but sometimes Jesus just hunts your ass down and there's nothing you can do about it". Which made me laugh because CS Lewis said something (kinda) similiar when he came to Christianity, saying that he was "the most dejected, reluctant convert in all of England". 

Some of the people in Nadia's flock have substance abuse problems. She talks about one named Candy. And how God loves Candy NOW. Even as she is dirty and sick and confused. He doesn't start loving us once we start making good choices, or a hold a job for 3 months or make sure all the bills get paif on time. He loves us NOW. Even if we are the conducter of the Hot Mess Express.

Here's another quote I thought was intersting: "It's weird, but all of the characters in the Gospels who encounter Jesus, the ones who most reliably know who he is are not the religious authorities or even Jesus' own disciples. They are the demons. The demons always recognize Jesus' authority. And the demons are afraid". Which, when you think about the biblical stories of Jesus interacting with demons this is TOTALLY true. And I just think that's fascinating for some reason.

That's probably enough out of context quotes. But I'll end with saying my favorite thing about this book was her honesty, and I love the very sacred feeling that a lot of her church's rituals had. What I didn't like - why does everyone who does Crossfit have to talk about it SO MUCH ALL THE TIME? Why?

Anyway, 4 stars out of 5.



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This book was provided for me in exchange for a fair review from Blogging for Books

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mon. | Dec. 5 – This Is How We Read #AMonthofFaves2016

Mon. | Dec. 5 – This Is How We Read #AMonthofFaves2016 – eg. Number of books read so far, genre you read the most from, picture of favorite (or most often used) reading location, most read author, % eBooks, hardcovers, paperbacks and/or audiobooks, hint at what your favorite read of the year is (let us guess), types of books you wish you read more of, month you read the most and least)


You guys. I'm legitimate scared I'm not going to hit 100 books read in 2016. For a little perspective - in 2014 I read 239 books, in 2015 I read 150 books, and this year....95. I have a couple of weeks to squeeze in 5 more. I can do it..... A more time consuming job with a shorter lunch break, a house, and a dog...that's what I'm going to blame.

Best short story collections I read this year: 



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Best Graphic Novels I read all year:

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Book that I've read that now both my parents are reading:

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Book that I was wary of but then ended up loving on:

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Book I knew I was going to love that Totes Ma Goats lived up to the hype:

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Book that scared the shit out me, but I loved:

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Book that confused that shit out of me, but I loved:


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Best Classic that I read this year:

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Books I liked the least that I read this year:

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So much wasted potential. Uggggggh.
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I know a ton of people who LOVED this book but it just didn't catch for me.

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No. Just no. Hating this book got me ostracized from my book club momentarily.